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CES-EUC End-of-Semester Luncheon - The World of the Roma: A Minority One and Many in the New Europe

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
5:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB

Roundtable discussion. Convener: Dario Gaggio, Director, CES-EUC and Associate Professor, History. Presenters: Alaina Lemon, Associate Professor, Anthropology; Jean Hébrard, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and Visiting Professor of History and LACS; and graduate students: Luciana Aenäsoaie, Elana Resnick, and Heather Tidrick. Co-sponsored by the Center for European Studies-European Union Center and Center for International and Comparative Studies. Free and open to the public. The European Union Center at the University of Michigan is a European Commission-designated Center of Excellence.

One of the first acts of Italy's newly elected rightist government, led by Silvio Berlusconi, has been to initiate the fingerprinting of the Roma population. This controversial move, awkwardly mitigated by the promise to extend the fingerprinting to Italy’s entire population, was a reaction to a wave of riots and anti-Roma violence that swept over the country last spring, raising a storm of protest and concern from EU officials. These events have drawn renewed attention to the condition of Europe’s Romany people, as well as other ethnic groups often associated with them. Often referred to as Europe's "original" minority to distinguish them from much more recent immigrants, the Roma have long been perceived as a problem to be "administered" at the local, national, and now even supranational levels. And yet, the average European citizen (not to mention most Americans) knows very little about the complex and extremely diverse histories and cultures of the many groups labeled as "gypsies." This luncheon roundtable aims to promote a wide-ranging discussion not only about the messy coexistence of assimilationist and segregationist policies in different European countries and at the EU level, but also about the ways in which the presence of the Roma in the new Europe questions and destabilizes widely shared understandings and imaginings of diversity, democracy, and social and political control.